The Extent Of B&N’s Weakness In The Tablet Space

Pretty much everyone knows that Barnes & Noble had a bad holiday season in terms of selling tablets, even the company acknowledged it.

I was inclined to let it lie, I did wonder why B&N had under-performed, after all the  company seemed to have perfectly fine tablet devices on offer, but perhaps it was just one of those quirks that sometimes happens. But then I saw the IDC figures for tablet shipments in quarter four, 2012 and, even if we take those figures as close to accurate, the news  is really quite bad news for B&N:

Worldwide tablet shipments outpaced predictions reaching a record total of 52.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. The tablet market grew 75.3% year over year in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11) and increased 74.3% from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units. Lower average selling prices (ASPs), a wide range of new product offerings, and increased holiday spending all acted as catalysts to push the already climbing tablet market to record levels.

via Tablet Shipments Soar to Record Levels During Strong Holiday Quarter, According to IDC – prUS23926713.

B&N went from shipping 1.4 million tablets in 2011, to shipping only 1 million in 2012 (an almost 28% drop in units shipped). That would be bad enough in a stable or falling market, but the market GREW by some 75% over the same period.

B&N was crushed by its closest competitor, ASUS who went from shipping 0.6 million units to shipping 3.1 million units! Or from less less than half of what B&N sold to shipping three times more.

Amazon moved decisively away from B&N, shipping six times as many units. Samsung, who only sold 600,000 more tablets than B&N in 2011, shipped 6.9 million more tablets than B&N in 2012.

Even Microsoft, whose tablets were new entries to the market (and who have partnered with B&N in the Nook/Newco venture) is said to have shipped 900,000 units.

The only sensible analysis of these figures is that B&N is losing ground and facing vibrant, effective and tough competitors. Unless the deal with Microsoft yields fruit soon and enables the Nook/Newco venture to grow shipments and sales aggressively, we have seen the peak of the Nook tablet business.

 

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Story title edited from Failure to Weakness. I felt using failure was unfairly harsh on the company, given the success they had in selling 1 million units, no mean feat for a bookseller!

Some Words Can Really Hit Home

Like these words:

“We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “After 5 years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast – up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%. Were excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection.”

via Amazon Media Room: Press Releases.

Go Read This | With 2 million members, Storybird is ‘reverse-engineering’ the picture book

A very nice, very smart, very exciting idea:

Initially, Ury and his cofounder, Kaye Puhlmann (both formerly consumer experience designers for digital ad agencies; Ury has worked with clients like Apple, Nike and Starbucks), imagined that families would be the primary users of the site. “Parents reading on the iPad to their kids in bed,” Ury said. Parents and kids are indeed using Storybird — “and a lot of people create stories almost as extended greeting cards,” Ury said — but it turns out the largest demographic is teachers and students. Over 125,000 schools are now on Storybird, with teachers issuing assignments to students and using the site in the classroom to help kids with their writing skills. The most recent demographic — and “the most voracious,” according to Ury — is teen and tween girls. “They are using it for what I’d almost call conversation and communication,” he added, sharing images and messages with each other online “the same way you might use Tumblr.”

via With 2 million members, Storybird is ‘reverse-engineering’ the picture book — paidContent.

Go Read This | Economic perfect storm: The four trends that killed Western growth | City A.M.

As disturbing as it my seem, we live in a world that has more than just publishing and books in it. hence today’s post. A fascinating analysis of where we are in world economics and how we got here (though not always one with which I wholeheartedly agree) can be read at the link below. Perhaps the most interesting idea is around the energy revolution and the coming (if you like) energy crunch, well worth pondering for a while:

The critical equation is the difference between energy extracted and energy consumed in extraction – energy return on energy invested (EROEI). Since the Industrial Revolution, EROEI has been high. Oil discovered in the 1930s provided 100 units of energy for every unit consumed. But EROEI has fallen, as discoveries have become smaller and more costly to extract. The killer factor is the non-linear nature of EROEIs. Once returns ratios fall below 15:1, there is a dramatic “cliff-edge” slump in surplus energy, combined with a sharp escalation in cost. And the global average EROEI may fall to 11:1 by 2020. Energy will be 50 per cent more expensive, in real terms, than today. And this will carry through into the cost of almost everything – including food.

via Economic perfect storm: The four trends that killed Western growth | City A.M..

Putting Things In Perspective | E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook

The Bookseller released publisher sourced data on ebook sales. There’s reason to be somewhat skeptical of the information in the sense that it is seller supplied and while non-one is saying it, there is the minute danger that some padding or exaggeration could creep in. However, the reality is that these figures are probably a very good approximation of where sales are in the UK (with the caveat as The Bookseller notes, that self-publishers are not represented*):

The basic numbers are clear. The data shows that the e-book market for traditionally published digital books is much bigger than previously thought, with estimates suggesting that a total number of 65 million e-books were sold in 2012, representing a value of about £200m – at least double what it was in 2011 in volume terms more than double. That would mean the overall book market grew in 2012, despite spending on print books falling £74m.

via E-book sales data, the truth is out there | FutureBook.

To put that in perspective, Nielsen released figures for the 2012 calendar year in Ireland that put sales at “a total of €123.4m and 11.5m units in 2012.”

Even allow for the fact that the Nielsen numbers for Ireland are widely seen as covering maybe 80% of sales, we can assume fairly happily that Irish print sales were well less that €150m and 15m units at the retail level.

Which when you think about it means that the ebook market, just for the UK is already bigger than the entire print market in Ireland. There’s no reason an Irish publisher cant attack that space aggressively and with relevant ebooks just as well as a UK based publisher.

What’s more, even if we assume a smaller growth rate for that digital share (say 10 or 20% in 2013) the market will STILL be larger than the Irish market and the space for growth is STILL more significant that that for most Irish publishers in print form.

Publishers committed to print or still unconvinced by digital sales, the alarm is ringing and you’ve pressed snooze once too many times, ignore it once more and the alarm will stop warning you and you’ll sleep through this change!

 

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*They’ve also excluded some 20p bestsellers. Which I find a little odd, but I can see where they were coming from. Personally, I would have included them.

Go Read This | A New Kind of Publisher: On Merging Creative Industries

A nice post from Zoe Faulder about how publishers are positioned for the “third generation” of ebooks:

There is a third generation of ebooks that exists but is far less prolific than the previous two generations – primarily due to cost. Unlike a straight text ebook, or even enhanced ebooks to a degree, this generation cannot be tacked on to the existing production cycles and requires completely new skill-sets. The third generation of ebooks has been called apps, but I would argue that there is more to it than what we have come to expect of applications available in the iTunes App and Google Play stores. The third generation of ebooks is about taking the content and spinning it into something grander than its original form. It encompasses all the tools made available in today’s networked world. Ebooks could become immersive digital experiences based on locative media, social interaction, interactive narrative and gamification.

via A New Kind of Publisher: On Merging Creative Industries.

Go Read This | Digital Lending, In Agreement | PWxyz

Awesome, in so many way:

This purchase is an example of the Smashwords Library Direct program, which allows libraries and library consortia to purchase large numbers of self-published titles in a streamlined and automated fashion using whatever selection criteria they see fit; additional large library consortia, such as California’s Califa, are expected to follow DCL’s suit. Smashwords permits its authors and publishers to set their own library prices using a web-based pricing tool; the majority of its participating authors have opted for library prices at below-market levels, reflecting the premium value they place on library exposure and promotion.

via Digital Lending, In Agreement | PWxyz.